Sunday, September 17, 2006

Baby one more time

There is something about these kids I tell you. They will always make you laugh, no matter how downcast you are feeling. The other day, I was strolling around below my building and along came a toddler, no more than two years old, plonked on her little tricycle, her ayah pulling her along. I waved at her. The ayah stopped the tricycle and said to the baby:
‘Uncle Ko Hi Bolo
She looked at me with wide eyes, and eventually deciding that I was an acceptable creature, smiled and waved. I waved back. I think she was really developing a liking for me, for she blew back a kiss.
‘that’s nice.’, the ayah was pleased. ‘Now tell your name to uncle’
She pursed her lips, as if contemplating on the reasonableness of this demand, and eventually said, ‘Saaarika’. She liked the musical intonation of her own voice and started beaming.
‘Good girl. Now count from one to ten’, The theatre of the absurd had begun. I have always wondered why kids are made to do such things.
Sarika looked down thoughfully, a melancholy expression on her face. She pretended not to have heard the ayah.
‘Sarikaaa..chalo chalo count from one to ten’ the Ayah was pushing it a bit too far now.
Sarika started rubbng her hands, as one might do on a cold north Indian winter morning. She was looking all around, not knowing what to do
The ayah bent down and whispered ‘this is not good beta. Uncle will feel you are a bad girl’
Phat! Sarika slapped the Ayah hard and looked at her with disdain. Maybe that is why she had been warming her hands. Then she looked at me and smiled sweetly, tilting her head to one side.
I made a ‘don’t worry about it’ gesture to her with my hands. She in turn made the same gesture to the Ayah, who was still nursing her face.
Sarika seemed to have really caught on to the idea of gestures, so she let loose a volley of facial expressions, shoulder shrugs and hand rotations. After a final twitch of the nose and a roll of her eyes, she seemed satisfied that she had showcased her entire oeuvre. She again smiled at me and blew a kiss. I tried to blush appropriately but ended up laughing out aloud instead. Sarika also started giggling. The ayah, concerned that she was being ignored completely, pulled the baby along and they were on their way, Sarika already having lost interest in me and waving to another passerby.There is something about these kids I tell you, they will always make you laugh

Thursday, September 07, 2006

The Operation

I got down at Bandra station after a long train journey from Church Gate. Today was one of the better days. The rains had lowered the temperatures significantly and I had avoided the rush hour by leaving late at 10 pm. Moreover, I had my ipod with me. I listened to some kickass guitar solos and that had made the journey passable. There was a semblance of quiet satisfaction in the atmosphere around the station, almost post-orgasmic in feel. There were fewer people around. They seemed to be walking more slowly than usual. Everything seemed effulgent in the afterglow of a lovemaking session. I realised I love this city only for the 9 hours from 10 in the night to 7 in the morning, when it slows down to earthly speeds. I crossed the road, and waved down a rickshaw.
'Turner Road', I shouted above Pink Floyd's psychedelic Echoes reverberating in my ears. It was the most mundane of my daily chores. Hailing down a rickshaw, shouting out my destination, looking around aimlessly for the next 7 to 10 minutes (depending upon whether I spent 3 minutes or 6 at the Linking Road-SV Road crossing) and shooing off beggar children along the way.
We had come to the crossing. There were 2.5 more minutes to go before the light turned green. There were 5 more minutes of Echoes left. I was happy with my life.
'Bhai Sahab..', I saw my rickshaw driver turn back and try to say something to me.
'Haan, tell me', I reluctantly removed one earphone.
'Bhai Sahab, is there such a thing as the surgery of the intestines?' He asked me earnestly, in thick, bhojpuri accented Hindi.
'Surgery of the intestines...have you ever heard of the intestines being operated upon?'
'Well, I have heard of some surgical procedures relating to the intestines..but I am not a doctor so I cant be too sure. Why do you ask?',I had removed the other ear phone now. I looked at the guy. He was in his early thirties, tall and with impeccable features. Like one of those Indian princes of yore.
' wife..doctors have told that she has to undergo a surgery of the intestines'
'She had undergone a vasectomy operation two years back in Jaunpur..the doctor accidentally snipped off something inside the stomach...she experienced several complications..and then I got her operated again..then she remained fine for a couple of years. Now, the problem has resurfaced. Doctors say an operation on the intestines is necessary to sort out this Iwas just wondering whether this saala intestines can be operated upon'
The light turned green. I could not say anything for a while. I did not know what to say. Then a bromide escaped my mouth
'Dont worry. Doctors know best. I am sure things will work out fine'
'Yeah that is what I am thinking..He is a big doctor..he will definitely you think I should get it done?'
'umm..I think so..where are u getting it done?'
'In the hospital at mahim'
'Raheja hospital?' I knew that was a stupid question the moment I asked it
'No no,', he smiled. 'Municipal hospital..actually Raheja would have been expensive..I cant afford will cost about 10000 Rs in municipal as opposed to 60000 Rs elsewhere'
For the second time in a minute, I did not know what to say. He showed some mercy and said 'Waise the doctors there are many people come there every day..but i am still surprised that yeh saala intestine ka operation...'
We had come to my house. I asked him to stop. I paid him and escaped to fresh air and some more Pink Floyd.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

From a Mumbaikar to the Jehadi

So are you celebrating, my jehadi friend?
You seem to have reaffirmed the trend,
of trying to break my spirit down,
of trying to take out this town.
seems like Allah would be very pleased,
he might send u two boys, well greased,
or some houri in the skies above,
on you might shower all her love.

but maybe not, and you know why,
even though yours was a cunning try,
it didnt work as you had thought,
didnt break my spirit, didnt get me distraught
I am still traveling, on that first class coach,
I am out on the streets, while u hide like a 'roach

Seems like Allah would not be very pleased,
He might send you to the Satan, well greased,

I know you are lurking in some corner,
waiting to pounce upon me again,
you want to see me broken and bruised
you want to see me writhing in pain
but i will not capitulate ever,
even if u chop my limbs off,
i will keep walking my chosen path
I am used to having it tough

you will never succeed till the judgement day
and Allah will have u perennially plastered
(that's only if i dont get you before that)
so bring it on you jehadi bastard!!

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Amaar Sonaar Bangla

Work took me to the city of joy last saturday. lots of interesting stuff happened. We met a japanese gentleman who bowed down an entire ninety degrees from his waist up. I tried my best to reciprocate, but could reach only 30 odd degrees before the relevant muscles started groaning in protest. The meeting lasted for about five hours and there were two things i learnt about our friends from the land of the rising sun. First, they are prone to dozing off during long meetings and second, they are very good at stonewalling any queries that require them to express any opinion other than one on mangoes. 'Maybe' and 'I check' are their favorite terms. Thus after a rather frustrating afternoon, which ended with the conclusions that 'he will check' and that 'eendiaan maangoes are vhery goooot!', I headed to a club called the Dalhousie Institute to meet friends Pita and Rony. We were room-mates for nearly an year in mumbai and had some pretty wild times together (as in booze parties, where new records in alcohol consumption were created every weekend..there was absolutely no sex as the term 'wild' might suggest..if one leaves out the odd kiss that rony and i shared in moments of utter inebriation that is). On my way, I passed the maidan and the Victoria memorial, soothing sights for eyes that were still stinging from tears of japan-induced desperation.
As expected, rony and pita had failed to qualify in the prelims of the DI open quiz. DI open quiz, as they tell me has been taking place for the last 36 centuries or something and is legendary in kolkata quizzng circles. So we sat in the club lawns for about an hour, sipping on beer and watching the brilliant Neil O'Brien carrying out a masterful quiz show. The standards of quizzing were very high. and as has been happening whenever i go to a quiz lately, I felt ashamed at calling myself a quizzer.
Anyhow, Pita then took me to Some Place Else, which I am told is the only decent pub in kolkata. I have to say that its brilliant. Rock music and mellow whiskey do indeed a great combination make. We were already buzzing, reminiscing about our days of debauchery in mumbai when Rony and soon after his sprightly girlfriend Mouparna joined us. I am sure she has a terrible opinion of me because the first thing Rony told her was: 'Brandy thinks bong women are slutty' (Dude, couldnt you have said SULTRY???). almost the entire evening was spent in trying to undo the damage by putting on display my best behaviour and not cracking any silly jokes. We headed back towards Rony's place where I spent the night and had a sumptuous meal of Doi Maach in the morning before heading back to mumbai.
Even though I am not a connoisseur of bong food, I can safely say that Rony's mother cooks the best fish ever. I am sure Rony would back me on this one. Eating that meal made my wish all over again that i was born a bong. Nothing beats lounging around shirtless all day, smoking, farting and eating fish that only bong women can prepare so well. Next life maybe.
All in all, a memorable visit. Another trip is likely soon, by when the Japanese gentleman will have hopefully 'checked' and will have an opinion. So till we meet again Kolkata!
ps: Noticed something rather curious at the kolkata airport. There is an inordinately long list of personnel not required to undergo security check. Most of the items read: 'Prime Minister' or 'Ambassador of any country' etc, recognising that it the office and not the individual that is respect/trust-worthy. But item number 23 on that list reads: 'Robert Vadra, when accompanied by National Security Guards'. So this man is real big. Bigger than Priyanka too??

Thursday, May 11, 2006


The sky, pitch black, shows small patches of grey,
Like after hours of scrubbing, a burnt pot may
The sleepy air awakens, and is surprised to see,
The corpse of the night, in the empty mug of coffee
The tree that vanished last eve, in sepia re-emerges,
In memory of its anonymity, i can hear dirges,
That the birds start singing,alone and then together,
They soon degenerate, along with the weather,
From a sublime melody, to a mundane chaos
I yawn,cross my legs, and then uncross
For hours on end, with my thoughts i lay,
And now sleep falls on me, with the rising day

Friday, March 24, 2006

The Game of Life

My office is close to the wankhede stadium. India were 70 for 3 at lunch with the main batting line up intact and Sachin going great guns. I had no work to do. My two bosses were not in office. I had never seen a cricket match live earlier. Five extremely compelling reasons for me to leave office in lunch time and go watch the 5th day of the India England test. Which is precisely what I did. Getting the ticket is itself a saga, which I will save for a later blog post. But by the time i entered, I had already heard that Dravid was back in the pavillion. The first ball I saw as i took my seat was Sachin's dismissal. I was crestfallen. But nothing had prepared me for what happened next. One hour, 14 overs, 30 runs, 7 wickets. I had paid 350 bucks for the black ticket. So i spent 25 rupees to watch every over.
But later, i reflected on my experience and realised that it was well worth it. First of all, I was not too disappointed with the outcome of the game. This was in part because I was insulated from the commentators' adrenalin packed comments. I also followed closely the field settings and tried to think like the batsman before every ball, something you cant always do while watching cricket on TV. But more importantly, I lived cricket in that one hour. When Flintoff ran in at tearaway speed, I sensed his muscles contracting and relaxing with every stride he took. I could almost touch the nervous concentration writ large on yuvraj's face as he waited for the ball. I heard the dull smack of the leather hitting the willow and marvelled at how artificial the sound had seemed when metamorphosed through the arcane electronic circuits of my TV speaker. I smelled the death of Indian hopes and their lack of stomach to put up a fight. But it didnt agonise me. I was fascinated that suddenly I could feel what the Indian team was feeling. I knew why Dhoni played those two atrocious shots. I knew, just like a hapless prey being cornered slowly by a pack of hungry hyenas would know. And when Munaf was dismissed, I rejoiced for the victorious team. It didnt matter who they were. All that mattered was that they had achieved the impossible. I stood up like 20000 others and applauded the team taking the victory lap. It was a beautiful moment. I wanted to be one of them. Emerging victorious after a bloody battle. Hasnt man always strived to do this? This is what brings meaning to Man's seemingly pointless existence. This is what Man is supposed to do. Fight.
I was suddenly grateful at the novel non violent methods of sublimation of Man's combative instincts that we call sports.
So when I came out of the stadium, I was not disappointed. I had seen and learnt so many new things in a span of little over an hour. If only all my classes in school and college were like this. I would be a much better man.
And yes, next time, I want to see India win.